STYLE Savvy: Packing Them up and Bringing Them Home

"Packing them up and bringing them home" by Lisa Hess (

Image credit: (2017), CC0/PD

Getting ready to move your college student home for the summer much earlier than you’d expected? Here are three keys to making the whole process go more smoothly.

Preparation. Since they’ve been entrenched in midterms and spring fever (not necessarily in that order), your kids probably did not have the opportunity to actually plan ahead and start packing and/or sending things home ahead of time. Whether you start the packing or they do, encourage them to separate the things they’ll need for the summer from the things that are going back to school in the fall — and then label the boxes. And, if you live far away, consider renting a storage unit for the summer. Your child’s roommates or friends might be interested in sharing the space — and the cost.

Tools. Even if your kids say they’re almost finished, it never hurts to have a few boxes, bins and one-step packing containers with you, just in case. Bins and boxes work well for things that can be stashed away for the whole summer, while fabric totes are handy for last-minute items and things that need to remain accessible on the way home. In addition, they’re lightweight and crushable, so, if they remain unused, they won’t take up valuable elbow room on the way home. Don’t forget labels and/or a permanent marker for keeping track of which box is which.

Patience. You may be ready to empty the room and hit the road, but keep in mind that these departures can be emotional for your child, who is saying goodbye to all of the people he or she has spent the better part of the last year with. Sure, technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch, but, as you already know from your year apart from your teen, it’s not the same. If time is of the essence, warn your child ahead of time, but be prepared for things to be more free-flow and less efficient, especially if it’s a long ride home.

Already have this pack-up-and-go stuff down to a science? Share your tips in the comments below where newbie empty-nesters will be sure to appreciate them!

Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.


  1. I moved my son out yesterday. We have an Ikea nearby and got a bunch of their huge bags/totes. He used the to move in and to move out. I also took disposable gloves but left them in the car. I almost wish I had them once we got down to the nity gritty. His roommate had already moved out and he had to do the cleaning. He was able to get in over the weekend and take home some things. One of them being his broom/dustpan. (Ugh!).

  2. We still need to go back. Our daughter moved some things home last weekend and, on the way home, she got the email that she wouldn’t be going back. I think I need to look into those Ikea bags! We’ve used Thirty-One large utility totes in the past.

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